First Australian Army Officers’ Mess

Mareeba Scout Hall

Supply facility
Atherton Tablelands

5 Kilpatrick Street, Mareeba 4880

Detachments of the First Australian Army based around 1 Australian Army Headquarters and Signals unit were stationed at Mareeba State School from late 1943 until departing for Lae on the north coast of New Guinea by October 1944. The First Australian Army was a rear echelon group commanded by Major-General John Murray, a much-decorated soldier, recently returned from North Africa with the 9th Division after commanding the 20th Brigade in fierce fighting against the elite Afrika Korps at Tobruk.


The stone fireplace and chimney now incorporated into the Mareeba Scout Hall are said to have been constructed as part of a log cabin hut which formed the quarters of the commanding officer of the First Australian Army, Major-General Murray. Another stone fireplace and chimney standing nearby in the grounds of a house at 1 Kilpatrick Street may have been constructed as a mess and recreation hut for other officers of the First Australian Army. The buildings probably formed part of a complex of officers’ facilities overlooking the Barron River at Mareeba during World War II.


Pearce, Howard (contributing author).
Vera Bradley. I Didn’t Know That: Cairns and districts Tully to Cape York, 1939–1946, Service personnel and civilians, Boolarong Press, Brisbane, 1995.

Peter Nielsen. Diary of WWII North Queensland, Nielsen Publishing, Gordonvale, 1993.

Howard Pearce. WWII: NQ: A cultural heritage overview of significant places in the defence of north Queensland during World War II. Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane, 2009.